Community, Interviews

From University drop-out to a full-stack dev, Codesphere’s Roman Frolov takes us on his journey into Software Engineering.

Aug 21, 2021
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From University drop-out to a full-stack dev, Codesphere’s Roman Frolov takes us on his journey into Software Engineering.

From the tender age of 14, Roman Frolov started working at his mother’s ice cream shop and for the next 8 years, he went on to work in restaurants, hotels and bars. 

Roman Frolov had always wanted to transition from his menial jobs to entrepreneurship but he didn’t initially envision a career in IT  because he felt his math skills were not good enough. 

“I grew up with this kind of mindset that you have to be born to be good in math which is completely false as I know right now” 

It took a presentation by Elon Musk that left him in awe of the wonders of technology to influence his decision and make him consider a career in tech. 

We had the honor of hosting Roman Frolov at our Weekly Decagon Fireside Chats where he shared with us his journey into software engineering and his advice for aspiring engineers.

Below are some excerpts from the Conversation: 

Decagon: There are many people in Tech who chose not to continue their university education who are making waves in the industry. Did this influence your decision to drop out of the university? 

Roman: I grew up with the goal of being an entrepreneur but not necessarily in IT because I felt my math skills were not good enough for IT. From a young age, I was pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities;  At 18, I started my online shop where I was shipping goods from the US under Armour, Nike etc  and reselling them in Russia through internet marketing. 

I was also creating public groups/public pages where I carried out social media marketing.

At the university, I initially started with studying Hospitality but six months later because I didn’t enjoy it and didn’t learn much, I changed my specialization to finance and entrepreneurship. After Switching my specialization to finance and entrepreneurship, I still wasn’t satisfied with it because, I wasn’t getting any in depth knowledge on management or human skills, everything being taught was high level theoretical and far from reality so I decided to drop without a plan but with my gut feeling that I can make it without the university. 

3 years later, I wrote my first program and got my foot into IT. In 2019, I founded my first startup, TAU, shared charging infrastructure and in this year we made a soft exit by selling part of our software. 

Decagon: From your profile, you currently work at Codesphere Incorporation, Can you tell us what Codesphere is all about and what you do there?

Roman: Codesphere is a startup that started a year ago with the launch of our data and hackathon. This year in March, we launched our product which provides cloud services.  We provide cloud code editors where you can launch,test and deploy code. We also provide

database monitoring tools,domains etc all in your browser. This way you don’t have to buy an expensive laptop to be able to code, you can do it from your browser anywhere you are and no matter the tool you are using.

At Codesphere, I work as a full stack software engineer, developing infrastructure and applications. I also maintain security, interact with our users and also supervise a team of engineers. 

Decagon: Looking back at when you first got into techin 2016 and where you are right now, what would you say are the differences between your responsibilities then and now? 

Roman: I started off as an intern in my early days and at the time, I was  testing software and I couldn’t break into production but at the same time, I was able to learn.

I got a job sometime later and the experiences I gathered from my internship helped me to climb the ladder really fast; I was promoted twice in my first year. I became proactive and started handling more responsibilities. I searched for loopholes that needed to be filled within the company and filled them up. I was leaving to work early and left late all the time. The next year, I founded my own companies and had a whole lot more responsibilities to take on. 

Decagon: What would you say is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far in your career and what are the lessons you’ve picked from it? 

Roman: The hard skills were never a problem for me. There was never a problem I couldn’t solve or a technical skill that was an obstacle.  It was mainly the soft skills like time management, emotional intelligence, team work etc that was kind of hard for me.  Working in a startup is working in a fast paced environment and you need to have critical thinking skills, you need to be patient and that was hard for me. 

Decagon: As a senior software engineer, you mentioned that you coordinate a team of engineers. What is your experience with managing people from diverse backgrounds?

Roman: I work with engineers from diverse backgrounds. There are those who are very skilled engineers and those who are just getting started and it was never a problem for me to find something that suits their skills. 

Decagon: What are the mistakes that you’ve made in the past and what are the things you wished you knew back then? 

Roman: I think that being more focused and being a master of a certain stack is really helpful. A common mistake is trying to learn everything and so you are just all over the place but don’t know a single one to a very good degree so one mistake that I made and was fortunate enough to fix that later was that I wasn’t fixed on a particular technology and that made me shaky and uncomfortable in the industry until the moment I understood what I wanted exactly. I was going all over the place with languages and knew all the languages a little bit but not

enough to master anyone. In the end, I picked up Node.js and I haven’t regretted this decision to this day. It is important to decide one area to focus on and stay in that area and get really good at it. 

Decagon: The timeline between when you started programming to when you won the hackathon in Russia was really short. What influenced your success?  

Roman: I started participating in hackathons after I landed a job and within a year I participated in 10 hackathons and won three of them. The major takeaway from all that for me was first of all team work; teamwork is very important. hackathons stimulate you to use critical thinking and go out of your comfort zone. At Hackathons, you are given a short amount of time to complete tasks and it helps to build you up as a developer. 

We mainly won because we found bugs in the system that nobody ever found before. The second hackathon was won because we met a day before to brainstorm and prepare an innovative product. My third hackathon was a solo one. It was really intense but I was the first person to complete the task. At every hackathon, I got really great job offers. 

Decagon: Did you  have imposter syndrome at any point in your career?

Roman: I definitely had imposter syndrome at my first job. Back then, when I would hear a new term, I would write it down to go look for the meaning. I felt like I wasn’t good enough and I always told myself that I needed to get better. I kept growing my knowledge base and kept learning and while doing so and as time passed, the imposter syndrome got less and less. 

Decagon: What Would you say are necessary skills for effective remote working seeing as we are now in the age and time of working remotely? 

Roman: I actually started working remotely even before covid. I started working remotely in April 2019 and during that time I noticed that there are all kinds of distractions. We have food to prepare, laundry to take care of and so much more but you have to stay focused on your work. I plan my day properly to tackle this. I start at 6am with a workout because health is a priority especially if you are working remotely you need to stay active because working remotely means you are working up to eight hours a day without leaving your workspace. For me I plan my meetings in the mornings and coding for later in the day. I usually split my days in halves; I work for 3-4 hours, take a nap or a walk before resuming work. It’s important to not go eight hours straight in a day; remember, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.  

For the Full Video of the Fireside Chat: Click Here


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